I realized something the other day which might be obvious to most, but for one reason or another it escaped me. Maybe I’ve been too busy searching for that rouge bag of marshmallows I hid from my toddler, losing sleep at night as I wonder what I could have done with them and which sort of vermin hath chanced upon the fluffy structures and turned them into their new headquarters.
It’s no wonder it escaped me that, as the mother of a toddler, I need to mean what I say. And I’m talking about literally mean exactly what I say.
I rarely mean what I say.
Even that last statement was sarcastic.
Even in the off chance I am being genuine, I still, as the mother of a little person, need to think through what I’m about to say.
Another thing I don’t often do.
For instance, I’m reading up on potty training and read how that when I ask my toddler to pull his pants down, he will likely take this to his tiny heart and literally pull on his waistband. Imagine his compete befuddlement when his pants go UP and not down! And knowing him, he will probably keep pulling on them until they’re slung over his ears, self-wedgie achieved and trust in his mother’s ability to give instruction completely gone.
Historically, I’m not the best communicator. When I first started dating my husband, my main mode of saying “excuse me” was to flick at his arm, leg, pizza or whatever was in my way until he moved it.
So one might ascertain that setting clear boundaries hasn’t been my strong suit as a parent.
I’m the mom you see at kids eat free night, following her toddler around as he greets each table individually, stopping for an extra long time at the back massage station (it’s at a natural foods store) to eyeball the situation and poke his head under the chair to attempt eye contact with the massage recipient.
I’m also the mom you might have noticed leaving the gym, following behind her toddler as he stomps through the doors, attempting to run in front and lead him like a mother duck, which, if you see a mother duck with only one duckling left, you know that mom duck had some lapses in judgement at one point as she should really have two or three to six ducks waddling after her. But anyway, I’m that suspect mama duck whose toddler has the keys which he pokes in every bike spoke, newspaper stand, hot car grill, sidewalk crack and key hole of each car other then her own in the twenty yard distance from the door to the car.
I really need to up my game. I need abilities like street smarts, book smarts, foul-language-filtration. And I need it FAST if I’m going to keep ahead of the little guy. I wouldn’t say he can talk just yet, but he can communicate in his own way, if you count squealing eeeeeeewwwww, eeeeeew, eeeeew while pointing and running to the other room, meaning–I pooped on the floor in the other room.
So how does a sarcastic bit@h such as myself become a straight-talking, boundary-staking, no-nonsense, matriarch-of-meaning?
Firstly, snort a few lines of instant coffee (as this will require tremendous focus).
Secondly, thoroughly review all Amelia Bedilia literature.
Lastly, tap my inner-diva. Do you think Beyoncè has ever ONCE been unclear in saying what she wants to have happen? Blue Ivy no doubt knows her mom didn’t stutter when she says follow her to the Hummer limo.
I have been successful in the past setting boundaries when they are LIFE-OR-DEATH. Such as not running into the road, letting me drink my coffee in peace, not touching my Ray-Ban’s.
It’s these small victories that I’m trying to build upon.
And I have been making progress.
This week I attempted night-weaning again, which will be, to date, what I consider the biggest boundary ever drawn between my son and me.
In the aforementioned potty training book, the author reminds desperate parents such as myself of the Yoda quote that when it comes to toddlers–
Do or do not do. There is no trying.
This quote became my mantra in the middle of the night as I lugged all 25+ pounds of my little weaner (please read the spelling of this last word carefully) around the house like a newborn. After which he’d remain sleeping only in my arms and not like in my arms as I lounged in bed. No, in my arms as I sat stark upright on the couch while listening to acoustic guitar that randomly would strum a harsh, braying strum right around the time I’d grow accustom to sleeping like an elderly person wheeled up to a bonfire.
But we did it. I stuck to my mom-guns, rode out the sleep deprivation, trusted my son’s listening skills and that he wanted to do the right thing, and he is now night-weaned.